Google's latest version of Android, 7.0 Nougat, launches today around the world. It has some pretty significant upgrades behind the scenes, including a doze mode that should improve your phone's battery life measurably, but there's a lot going on with everything from the notifications menu to the way you separate your personal and work apps -- so here's a full list of the changes.
If you're new to Android 7.0, here's a guide -- in GIF format -- to what the major changes are. Multitasking is the update's most significant change over Android 6.0 Marshmallow, letting users run two apps simultaneously on-screen natively, a feature otherwise restricted to custom branches of Android like the one running on Samsung's Galaxy Note7. Notifications have been overhauled massively, too, including the ability to reply directly to messages and emails with a pop-out box and a cleaner look.
Here's a complete list of changes in Nougat, courtesy of Google, with our simplified explanations:
- JIT Compiler -- a new iteration of Android's just-in-time (JIT) compiler optimises apps for your phone's unique hardware specifications -- reducing storage space needed for apps and making updates faster.
- VR Mode -- support for virtual reality is now baked into Android through a feature called Daydream, and will debut on future Google handsets -- maybe the next Nexus? -- with much improved latency and support for wireless controllers.
- Vulkan API -- the latest version of Android now supports the low-level, low-overhead Vulkan API -- which makes development easier for game-makers, and works across different mobile and console and desktop gaming platforms.
Battery & Data
- Doze -- Doze is an improved battery saver mode that recognises when your phone is put away in your pocket or backpack or purse, switching it to a low-power setting even if it's being moved around (which on some phones will light up the display).
- Data Saver -- there's now a radio setting in Android 7.0 Nougat that stops apps running in the background from using mobile data, lowering your overall data usage. It's already a feature in the Chrome web browser.
- Split-Screen Mode -- Nougat makes it possible to open and view two apps simultaneously, a much requested productivity feature as well as being useful for watching a YouTube video while browsing through Reddit or Facebook.
- Picture-In-Picture Mode -- along the same lines as split-screen multi-tasking, your videos -- from supported apps -- can be pushed over the corner of the screen to continue playing while you browse the rest of your phone and use it as normal.
- Quick Switch -- you can now double-tap the menu button (which Google calls the 'overview' button -- it's the one that's not the back button) to pop back to your last used app, letting you jump between two apps back and forth extremely quickly.
- Bundled Notifications -- all your Gmail notifications, for example, will bundle themselves together, splitting out further into individual notifications when you tap on the main card.
- Direct Reply -- when you tap on a supported notification like an email or a text message, you'll have the option to reply directly through a cut-down on-screen overlay with your usual pop-up keyboard.
- Notification Controls -- each app now has its own notifications settings directly accessible, so you can adjust features like audible or vibration alerts on the fly.
- Customisable Quick Settings -- you can now change the order of any of your quick settings options, a feature previously restricted to custom Android builds.
- Quick Settings Bar -- the Quick Settings menu now folds up into a bar of your five most frequently used options.
- Improved Settings Navigation -- the Settings app is now organised into sub-menus like Display and Security, which should make things easier to search through quickly.
- Settings Suggestions -- if you head to Nougat's settings menu, it'll give you some tips on how to optimise your device -- like adding a security password or PIN if you don't have one set already.
- Clear All In Overview -- a popular feature in custom builds of Android, the new system-wide Clear All option will kill all your currently-running apps.
- Emergency Information -- your phone will now store useful and medically relevant personal data like blood type, name, allergies and an emergency contact for emergency services personnel to access through the lock screen.
- Lock Screen Wallpaper -- another feature popular on custom Android variants, there's now the option to set different wallpapers on lock screen and home screen on your smartphone.
- Unicode 9.0 -- the latest update for the worldwide list of emoji is Unicode 9.0 released in mid-June, and Android 7.0 Nougat incorporates those at a systemwide level.
Privacy & Security
- Direct Boot -- a phone with Android 7.0 Nougat will boot up faster, and will also be able to receive text messages and other notifications while still at its initial lock screen -- including alarm clock ringtones -- to make switching your phone on a more seamless process.
- Seamless Software Updates -- devices running Nougat will now download software updates in the background by default when on Wi-Fi -- without any user interaction required. This should mean users' phones stay up to date with Android's regular security patches.
- File-Based Encryption -- Android Nougat now encrypts at a file level rather than at a storage block level, which allows finer-grain security for individual files.
- Scoped Folder Access -- where the last version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow, restricted apps' permissions until they asked for them -- especially for accessing device storage -- 7.0 Nougat now restricts that further to individual folders.
- Trusted Face -- a semi-biometric authentication tool using a device's front-facing camera -- on selected devices with specific levels of hardware support -- Trusted Face can recognise specific users and unlock the phone when required if enabled.
Device Setup & Migration
- Improved System Backup Coverage -- the basic Android Backup cloud-based phone snapshot service now covers more features like Wi-Fi hotspot settings and apps' preset permissions, making it easier to switch between an old and new Android device.
- Multi-Locale Support -- you can now tell Android 7.0 Nougat that you understand multiple languages, and it won't offer to translate webpages in a language you already understand, and will show search results from multiple regions around the world.
- New Languages Support -- Nougat supports 100 new languages and 25 locales for some of those languages -- like the difference between Australian English and UK English -- and will carry those systemwide settings through to supported apps.
- New Language Preferences -- you can now set supported keyboards and apps to deliver the right keyboard and text for your needs, and you can set different options for a variety of apps that you install.
- Accessible Setup -- features like magnification and text-to-speech are now selectable during an Android 7.0 device's initial setup, making it much more appropriate for users with accessibility needs.
- Display Size -- as well as text, icon size and image magnification can be adjusted at a system level, with that feature being translated into all supported apps.
- Mono Audio Output -- there's also now a systemwide setting to downmix all stereo audio output into a single mono stream outputted over both left and right audio channels, suitable for hearing aids and mono headsets.
- Variable Text To Speech Speed -- users can now adjust the output speed of text to speech, which is an often-requested feature by accessibility users who are used to listening to computer speech output at high speeds.
Android For Work
- Work Mode -- Android 7.0 Nougat will now let you designate certain apps and notifications as work apps, and will silence or disable notifications outside of preset work hours to give you some much-needed down time.
When's It Out?
If you own a Nexus device -- anything newer than the Nexus 7 (2013) tablet and the Nexus 5 (2013) smartphone -- you'll get a prompt to upgrade to the latest version of Android over the next couple of days or weeks (depending on your Aussie mobile carrier). If you're still confused, here's a list of the supported Google-branded devices:
- Google Nexus 6 (October 2014)
- Google Nexus 9 (October 2014)
- Google Nexus 5X (October 2015)
- Google Nexus 6P (October 2015)
- Google Pixel C (October 2015)
Android 7.0 Nougat launches first on the LG V20, but you can expect most manufacturers to -- eventually -- upgrade their recent smartphone releases
What's It Look Like?
If you feel like a little bit more of a visual guide, here's how the new Quick Settings menu works:
Here's how you can instantly reply to messages from the notifications bar:
And here's how notifications from the same app are grouped together: